November 1, 2011

Nappy Roots’ ‘Nappy Dot Org’ misses the mark

By Aaron Williams–

Bowling Green hip-hop collective Nappy Roots has seen homegrown success since the release of their first album, “Watermelon Chicken,” and “Gritz” in 2002, as well as the popularity of the two singles “Awnaw” and “Po’ Folks” from that LP. The latter of the two songs would earn Nappy Roots a 2003 Grammy nomination for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration that they shared with Anthony Hamilton, a featured artist on the track. Their follow-up album, “Wooden Leather,” was also critically acclaimed and featured production from the likes of Kanye West and David Banner.

In addition to professional success, Fish Scales, Skinny DeVille, Big V, B. Stille and Ron Clutch – who together form Nappy Roots – have developed a cult following within the underground of alternative Southern hip-hop, and for good reason. With the success of their Atlantic Records albums and their 2010 effort, “Pursuit of Nappyness,” Nappy Roots has gone from Western Kentucky University’s hip-hop collaborative to major players in the world of Southern rap.

On Oct. 11, Nappy Roots released their latest contribution to hip-hop culture, created with the help of Southern all-star production trio Organized Noize. The result is “Nappy Dot Org.” With Organized Noize’s repertoire consisting of TLC’s “Waterfalls” and OutKast’s “Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik,” expectations for “Nappy Dot Org” should be quite high going into the first listen, but Nappy Roots doesn’t deliver as fully as you would expect them to.

The first single from “Nappy Dot Org”, Nappy Dot Org’s first single “Hey Love,” is a cathartic rant about a man being fed up with his ex that features soulful hook from Samuel Christian, but it is far from the album’s best track. That title belongs to “Pete Rose,” where the Nappy crew gets a little help from Khujo Goodie to deliver a hard-hitting flow that deals with frustration in the viewpoint of the black male with themes such as hearing about people wanting Barack Obama dead and the unfairness of the criminal justice system. The heavy bass makes for a classic Southern beat and the lyrical content mingles party and drug imagery with rhymes about religion and spirituality.

In the same vein, track No. 7, “Karma,” asserts itself as one of “Nappy Dot Org’s” better raps featuring a slow, mystifying hook with strings laid over the beat to add to the dramatic effect of the song. Outside of these tracks, “Nappy Dot Org” offers little variety and even becomes slightly nauseating at moments with some of the bubblegum, poppy beats the band chose to use their talents on and the repetitive, equally poppy hooks found on tracks like “Y’all Party,” “Good and Evil” and the auto-tuned “Easy Money.”

“Country Boy Return” may bring the listener back to the sound of country-fried hip-hop that they are used to from Nappy Roots, but sonically it is the only moment “Nappy Dot Org” goes in this direction, preferring instead the sappy “Congratulations” at the album’s conclusion.

“Nappy Dot Org” is simply a mediocre effort from an otherwise very talented group. While the group’s lyrics are as biting and relevant as ever, their message often goes unheard because it is drowned in annoying hooks and lighthearted beats that any true hip-hop or bass head will find lacking and less than satisfying. “Nappy Dot Org” earns a two out of five stars.

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Photos courtesy Nappy Roots Entertainment

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